The Journeys of St. Paul & the Churches of Asia Minor
Highlighting the Biblical History and the Growth of the Early Church in Turkey
Istanbul ... Ankara ... Cappadocia ... Adana ... Konya ... Antioch Pamukkale ... Smyrna ... Pergamum ... Troy ... Kusadasi ... Ephesus
Day One - Departure: Today we begin our journey to Turkey.
Day Two - Istanbul / Ankara: Arrive Istanbul in the morning and continue by motor coach to Ankara, the capitol of Turkey, for our overnight.
Day Three - Ankara / Cappadocia: Ankara originated as a Hittite settlement in the second millennium BC. We will see traces of these invaders at the Museum of Anatolian Civilization which houses the world's largest collection of Hittite artifacts, before continuing to Cappadocia, a rugged, isolated region in the heartland of the Anatolian Plateau and one of the early centers of Christianity. Overnight Nevsehir.
Day Four - Cappadocia: We begin our sightseeing in the Goreme Valley which shelters some of Turkey's finest Byzantine era rock churches and chapels, many of them decorated with superb frescoes that were painted by early Christians more than a thousand years ago. Other notable sights in this area include the picturesque villages of Avanos and Uchisar, renowned for the quality of their pottery and other crafts. Overnight Nevsehir.
Day Five - Cappadocia / Adana: Today we set out for Adana in southern Turkey. En route, we'll visit one of the mysterious underground cities built by the early Christians of the region to escape the invading Roman armies. Some cities extend down as deep as 14 stories. Motor south via the famous Cilician Pass through which Alexander the Great and St. Paul passed. Next, we stop in Tarsus, birthplace of St. Paul. Overnight in Adana.
Day Six - Adana / Antakya / Adana: Today we enjoy a full-day excursion to Antakya, formerly known as Antioch, the city which was the headquarters of St. Paul's mission journeys. Our route takes us past Toprakkale, a noted crusader castle. Antioch, founded in 300 BC, soon grew into the premier center of Hellenistic civilization in the Eastern Mediterranean. During the first century A.D., Sts. Barnabas, Peter and Paul made the city a focal point of Christian evangelism. Among the most noteworthy sights we will visit are the Bazaar, the Mosque of Habib Neccar, the Hatay Museum, with its superb collection of Roman mosaics, and the Grotto of St. Peter, where the apostle Peter reputedly preached. The Book of Acts of the Apostles specifically states that Jesus' followers were first called Christians here. Overnight Adana.
Day Seven - Adana / Konya: Today we depart for Silifke on the Mediterranean coast, passing the twin castles of Maiden and Korykos. Silifke's most notable feature is its Byzantine castle which the Knights of Rhodes converted into a fortress during the Crusades. The town overlooks the Goksu River where the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa drowned in 1190, an accident which helped bring the Third Crusade to an untimely end. From Silifke, we head north across the rugged Taurus Mountains to Konya for the night.
Day Eight - Konya/Pamukkale: Konya (Iconium) was visited by Paul on his first mission journey. Here, too, the renowned mystic and poet Mevlana Celaledin Rumi founded the order popularly known as the Whirling Dervishes. Sites of interest include the Museum and the tomb of Mevlana. Leaving Konya, we journey westward across Turkey's Anatolian heartland. En route, we visit Yalvac (Antioch in Pisidia). Here, Paul preached his first recorded sermon. The town boasts several ruins, notably a temple to the Phrygian moon goddess, an aqueduct, and a Byzantine church. This afternoon we arrive in Pamukkale, famed for its hot springs, limestone formations, and the ancient Hieraopolis. Overnight Pamukkale.
Day Nine - Pamukkale / Kusadasi: After breakfast, we set out for Laodicea, which is one of the Seven churches of Revelation (Rev.3:14-22), then proceed to Aphrodisias, the ancient city dedicated to the Greek Goddess of Love and Beauty where we will have an opportunity to view its magnificent ruins. From Aphrodisias, we proceed to Kusadasi, one of Turkey's most popular Aegean resorts, for two nights.
Day Ten - Ephesus: A short drive brings us to the archaeological site that many regard as the most impressive in the world: Ephesus. Under the ancient Greeks, it was a center for the worship of the goddess Artemis, whose temple drew worshipers from all quarters of the Mediterranean. Also dating from the classical period are the theater (mentioned in Acts 19) and the newly-restored Library of Celsus. In AD 53 Paul preached here and attracted a large following during his third mission journey. Important ecclesiastical sites from the Christian era include the Basilica of St. John, said to be the last resting place of this apostle, and the Church of St. Mary. Overnight Kusadasi.
Day Eleven - Kusadasi / Canakkale: Today we visit Izmir (Smyrna), site of one of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor listed in the Book of Revelation, and then Pergamum, a center of Greek culture in the third and second centuries BC. Here, we visit the Acropolis. Parchment was invented here. This afternoon we'll drive north to legendary Troy, and on to Canakkale for the night.
Day Twelve - Canakkale / Istanbul: Today we pass through Bursa where the founders of the Ottoman Empire lie, and on to Iznik, famous from biblical times as ancient Nicaea, the site of the first council of the early Christian church. Overnight Istanbul.
Day Thirteen - Istanbul: We have a full day tour of Turkey's greatest city (Constantinople). We begin with a visit to the Old Spice Bazaar before boarding a ferry for a cruise along the Bosphorus. Our cruise takes us past medieval forts, royal palaces, hunting lodges of sultans, and intriguing waterfront homes on both shores of the European and Asian continents. We disembark just before noon at Sariyer fisherman wharf on the European side. This afternoon we'll visit the famous 16th century Sultan Ahmet Mosque (known worldwide as the Blue Mosque), St. Sophia, built by Emperor Constantinos in 4th century and rebuilt by Emperor Justinanous in 6th century, and the Grand Covered Bazaar. Probably the oldest and the largest shopping mall in the world, the Grand Bazaar features over 3600 shops, 64 streets, 22 gates, a police station, a clinic, a post office, branch offices of almost all banks, a private security team, and daily traffic that varies between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors. Early this evening we return to our Istanbul hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day Fourteen - Istanbul: Today begins with a visit to Topkapi Palace Museum, which was the residential and administrative palace of Ottoman Sultans for 400 hundred years between 1453 and 1853. It displays the costumes of Sultans, kitchen wares and utensils, armory, holy relics of the Islamic religion, Treasury of Empire, and the largest and oldest porcelain collection in the World from Japan and China. This afternoon is at leisure to discover the city and shop on your own before tonight's farewell dinner at the hotel.
Day Fifteen - Istanbul: Transfer to the airport to begin our return journey home.